Republican presidential candidate and former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee has some strong opinions on the news that President Barack Obama is still allowing the National Security Agency to spy on foreign leaders of ally countries and in doing so spied on American lawmakers. Huckabee appeared on Fox News on Wednesday evening, Dec. 30, 2015, where he spoke to host Sandra Smith about the Wall Street Journal’s Dec. 29 report that the NSA listened in Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s conversations during the Iran deal negotiations including those with members in Congress. The former governor expressed if that is the case then Obama should be impeached.
Huckabee was discussing the Wall Street Journal report published Tuesday, Dec. 29 that revealed the NSA has been continuing to monitor the conversations of foreign leaders despite Obama promising the practice would cease two years ago. The White House ordered the NSA to listen specifically to Netanyahu, his aides and other Israeli leaders as they lobbied Congress, especially Republican members, and American Jewish leaders to oppose the Iran nuclear deal.
Since some of the calls were to members of Congress one source told WSJ, “the executive branch would be accused of spying on Congress.” The NSA accomplished the spying by placing “a cyber implant in Israeli networks.” An anonymous senior official said the NSA was looking “to give [the administration] an accurate illustrative picture of what [the Israelis] were doing.”
What was discovered was “how Mr. Netanyahu and his advisers had leaked details of the US-Iran negotiations – learned through Israeli spying operations – to undermine the talks; coordinated talking points with Jewish-American groups against the deal; and asked undecided lawmakers what it would take to win their votes.” Both the White House and the Israeli Embassy are denying everything relating to the WSJ’s findings.
The GOP candidate told Smith, “The real issue is whether or not the president was aware that members of Congress were being tapped. If that’s the case, and the president was aware of it, Sandra, I believe that this is not only unconstitutional, I believe this is an impeachable offense.” Huckabee believes after an investigation if it is discovered Obama did spy on American lawmakers the president “should either resign or the Congress ought to have the guts to go after him.”
The former Arkansas governor invoked Republican President Richard Nixon who resigned after his knowledge and participation in covering up the Watergate scandal, where in June 1972 Nixon’s reelection campaign spied on the campaign headquarter of Democratic opponent George McGovern. Huckabee recounted, “Richard Nixon resigned for less than this. I don’t think we can just gloss this over. This is a serious issue when one branch of government spies on another branch.” Nixon faced the risk of impeachment and chose to resign in August 1974 becoming the only president to do so.
House Intelligence Committee Chairman David Nunes (R-Calif.) announced Wednesday that his the Intelligence Committee is going to investigate whether the NSA actually recorded communication between the Israeli leader his aides and members of Congress. Nunes is also having the director of National Intelligence and the head of the National Security Agency brief members of Congress when they return next week. Nunes told the Associated Press, “We’re going to play this right down the middle and determine whether or not somebody did something wrong.”
In 2013, President Obama promised to limit spying on foreign leaders, after NSA contractor Edward Snowden leaked the extent of the NSA’s data collection spying program on the American public and world leaders. Although Israel is a supposedly a close friend and ally, the relationship between Obama and Netanyahu has always been strained especially over Iran. A senior administration admitted Obama still wanted Netanyahu monitored, “Going dark on Bibi? Of course we wouldn’t do that.”